Trip · 3-day backpacking trip
For · Friends and first-time backpackers
Vibe · Challenging and hard
Distance · 15 mile loop and 3,524 feet of elevation gain
Permits · Yep, pick up a permit at Hunting Hollow Entrance
Drive · 2 hours from SF
Ideal dates · April to May or September to October
Pets · Not allowed on trails
Henry W. Coe is the second largest state park in CA (after Anza-Borrego Desert State Park). It has about 87,000 acres of lofty ridges and 250 miles worth of trails. It's an expansive area that draws hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers, without the Yosemite-level crowds. Summers are sizzling with highs in the 100s, so plan to visit in the fall or spring. You'll have no trouble picking up a backpacking permit, unless it's Memorial Day weekend. Whether it's a two-night or week-long adventure, you'll find plenty of wilderness to explore at Henry Coe.
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Henry Coe SP has three main entrances: Coe Ranch, Hunting Hollow, and Dowdy Ranch. You can only self-register or pick up a backpacking permit on the day of your trip from Coe Ranch or Hunting Hollow park entrances. Permits are first-come, first-serve (FCFS), but you won't have any trouble securing one outside of a spring holiday weekend, like Memorial Day. Parking spots are limited though so try to get to the trailhead as early as possible.
There are designated FCFS backcountry campsites in the western part of the park, but you can generally camp where ever you'd like. Some of these campsites have outhouses, but they're not always stocked with TP.
Permit fees are $5 per person a night and $8 parking fee per vehicle a night ($6 at Hunting Hollow Entrance). Bring exact change if the visitor centers are closed, otherwise, you can pay by credit card.
In 1953, Sada Coe, the daughter of Henry Willard Coe, gave her family's cattle ranch to CA. It became the park we have today.
The Ohlone and the Northern Valley Yokuts were the area's earliest inhabitants. They were semi-nomadic tribes.
Henry Coe is home to Orestimba Wilderness, one of 12 state park wilderness areas that's designed to preserve the area's natural ecosystems
Don't leave the car without a first aid kit. Stuff happens out in the wild and you always want to be prepared.
They're expensive, but you can lean on these bad boys for river crossings and navigating all kinds of terrain.
Light as a feather and versatile enough to use for running, camping, and other nighttime activities.
It's a heavier, bulkier pillow for ultralight backpackers, but you're guaranteed a good night's sleep.
Add up to 14 degrees of warmth and keep your sleeping bag nice and clean with this mummy liner.
Handmade in Seattle, Washington, this sleeping bag is pricey, but you can count on it lasting for years.
A spacious sleeping bag that will help you stay warm for spring, summer, and fall camping.
Winner of the REI Editor's Choice Award, this bag is warm and light, coming in a little over three pounds.
This pack weighs two pounds, has 7 pockets, and has a built-in seat pad, but it can only carry up to 30 pounds.
If you're an experienced backpacker, this is the lightest full-size, full-featured, frameless pack made.
You won't be saving money, but you'll save space and weight with these camp sandals.
These comfortable, breathable, quick drying undies are designed for surviving long treks.
Made with 60% merino wool, these pricey socks are guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Lightweight, grippy, and breathable shoes made for navigating all kinds of trails and terrain.
These down pants will keep you and your legs warm in the chilliest of nights.
Never dig around your pack to find some hand sanitizer. Instead, hang this one on the outside of your pack.
Whether it's coffee or cocoa, bring a silicone mug like this one into the wild. Your tummy will thank you.
Don't let the backcountry stop you from enjoying a hot, quality drip coffee in the morning.
This lightweight pot is for backpackers who want to enjoy warm and cold soaked meals.
These bamboo utensils are designed for the backcountry, and conveniently comes with a travel pouch.
A popular, pricier backpacking stove that's an ounce heavier, but is reliable in the wildest envrionments.
Add a little magic to your experience by hanging these twinkling lights around your tent every night.
Leave your backpacking pack at camp, and use this sleek, compressible pack for day hikes.
Feel fresh, clean, and renewed after each hike with these thick, durable, aloe-infused wet wipes.
The more you backpack the lighter your shelter becomes, and the lighter it is, the more expensive it can be.
You'll always need to bring your hiking poles to use this tent, but it only weighs a little over two pounds.